9 May 2007


May 1st (May Day) is a traditional day of celebration for the labour movement around the world. To counter the apparent communist appropriation of the day Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of St Joseph the Worker in 1955 to draw attention to Catholic Social teaching about the rights and responsibilities of both workers and their employers.

In separate statements to mark the day this year Australian bishops have expressed concerns about Australia’s new workplace laws.

In releasing the most recent letter of the Australian Bishops "Keeping Time - Australian families and the Culture of Overwork", The chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Saunders noted that there had been a massive encroachment of work into family time over the past two decades and that there were anecdotal reports that overtime and penalty rates had been substantially eroded under the workplace agreements.

In a separate statement, Bishop Kevin Manning of Parramatta said Australians appeared to be tolerating or rewarding those aiming to create a society and climate "which makes the economy the barometer of human fulfillment" He went on to criticize recent statements of the Prime Minister by saying "We say put people before profit. The Prime Minister appears to be putting the economy before people where wages are reduced and conditions reduced for the sake of the economy."

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